William Ernest Henley

(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)

A Love By The Sea - Poem by William Ernest Henley

Out of the starless night that covers me,
(O tribulation of the wind that rolls!)
Black as the cloud of some tremendous spell,
The susurration of the sighing sea
Sounds like the sobbing whisper of two souls
That tremble in a passion of farewell.

To the desires that trebled life in me,
(O melancholy of the wind that rolls!)
The dreams that seemed the future to foretell,
The hopes that mounted herward like the sea,
To all the sweet things sent on happy souls,
I cannot choose but bid a mute farewell.

And to the girl who was so much to me
(O lamentation of this wind that rolls!)
Since I may not the life of her compel,
Out of the night, beside the sounding sea,
Full of the love that might have blent our souls,
A sad, a last, a long, supreme farewell.


Comments about A Love By The Sea by William Ernest Henley

  • Susan Williams (7/26/2016 9:06:00 PM)


    The susurration of the sighing sea
    Sounds like the sobbing whisper of two souls
    That tremble in a passion of farewell.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Has there ever been a better use of the word susurration? ? ? ? Has there ever been a more beautiful image? ? ? ? Love this classic poet.
    (Report) Reply

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  • (5/27/2015 8:03:00 PM)


    Amen to everything John Richter said below. Nobody could have summarized this poem any better than that. (Report) Reply

  • Charlotte Gunther (5/27/2015 12:43:00 PM)


    the sounds in this poem are soulful - the language elegant - the ache archetypal. (Report) Reply

  • (5/27/2015 11:37:00 AM)


    I believe these are meant as dying words - of a man at sea facing a storm that will be sure to kill him. I agree it's beautifully written, but wouldn't quite call it a 'recipe for life.' He is about to die. He is lamenting over his life, the desires that have always driven him. He bids a 'mute farewell' to all people and things in his life, as he will die without them knowing it, or possibly without remembering him. How awesome is that realization? Most of the people in our lives are nothing but memories, our future death will mean nothing to them, even if they do remember our name. And his dying breath is saved for his one and only love, whom he was never able to capture as a lover.... Awesome. (Report) Reply

  • (5/27/2015 8:55:00 AM)


    Lovely poem. Creativity at best. (Report) Reply

  • (5/27/2015 8:08:00 AM)


    evocative. please read mine; 'love is spherical' (Report) Reply

  • Juwon Daniel (5/27/2015 5:15:00 AM)


    Its a touching one though, it like a recipe to life. Good one (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (5/27/2015 4:43:00 AM)


    To the desires! Nice work. (Report) Reply

  • (7/5/2014 10:28:00 PM)


    Really sad but beautiful creativity. (Report) Reply

  • (8/18/2012 10:41:00 PM)


    Such a sad poem, but great expression. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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